In a lecture to the London School of Economics (LSE) today (Tuesday) TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady will call for the Prime Minister to rescue Britain from her hard-line MPs who want Britain to crash out of the EU without a deal.
On the growing danger of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, Frances will say:
“Whichever way they voted in the referendum, the public is losing confidence in the government to get a good deal. Workers want to know that their jobs, rights and livelihoods are safe. But a group of Conservative MPs is now trying to drive us into a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. It would be a horror show – a nightmare on Brexit Street, with the bad guys waiting in the shadows to slash jobs and workers’ rights.
“A ‘no-deal’ Brexit with default to World Trade Organisation rules would be disastrous. It would hit manufacturing hard, and leave services, which make up the bulk of our economy, out in the cold. I believe that people are tired of puerile no-deal threats and pie in the sky promises. They want politicians to level with them about the choices and compromises ahead.”
On how to rescue negotiations from deadlock and Conservative infighting, Frances will say:
“We have reached the point when the Conservatives alone have proved inadequate for the task ahead. They are unable to put the national interest before their own bitter factional interests. Not just the Prime Minister, but 60 million people are being held to ransom by 30 or so hard Brexit diehards. The Prime Minister needs to break free.
“She should bring together a negotiating team that genuinely represents the whole country. Let’s call it ‘Team UK’. It would be cross party, with representation from business and unions, and from every UK nation. It would force us to focus on the realities of the negotiation – the priority of protecting jobs and investment, the compromises to achieve it, and the price Britain will pay if we fail.”
On the importance of confirming agreement to transitional arrangements, Frances will say:
“We need a transition deal to give more time to talk and prepare. During the transition the UK would continue to play by the single market’s rules. It’s common sense – there simply isn’t time to negotiate a whole new temporary arrangement. That time should be used to focus on the big one – a new trade deal between the EU and UK for the long-term.”
On a successful final deal for working people, Frances will say:
“The test for a final deal is that it protects jobs, investment and workers’ rights. People want to hear a sensible, smart, realistic plan to deliver that. So we must keep all options on the table. We should not be boxing Britain in by ruling out ongoing membership of the single market and customs union.
“Staying in the single market and customs union would be the best way to secure our long-term economic interests, jobs and rights. If there’s a better answer, the TUC is ready to listen. But the government has patently failed to come up with a convincing alternative.”
On the government’s failure to publish its Brexit impact assessments, Frances will say:
“The government has refused to publish its own industry impact reports, presumably because they don’t tell a great story. But people want politicians to start some straight talking. That means the government must level with the British public about the choices and compromises that lie ahead.”